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Oct. 5, 2012

Google: Improving Search Results with Recommendations

On June 1st Google went social with Google +1, which allows you to share your favorite links and websites with your friends as company executives are still trying to make Google more social. This is Google's version of Facebook’s "like", a simple function that's very powerful because it's part of a social network. +1 is currently available for English searches on Google.com

When you see a +1 button on these sites, you can recommend a product, news article, movie or other content to your friends. When your Google connections search for content or a site, they will see your +1’s their search results.

Google displays a +1 button next to search results and ads, while encouraging other websites to include the buttons on their web pages. All +1's are public and they are tied to your Google profile. (You will need to set up a Google Profile if you haven’t already done so). The goal is to use this data to tailor search results & ads by recommending sites +1’d by your friends.

"+1" is the digital shorthand for 'this is pretty cool.' To recommend something, all you have to do is click +1 on a webpage or ad you find useful. These +1's will then start appearing in Google's search results," explains Google. Your +1's are listed in in a profile tab, where you can manage them. There's also a page that lets you disable personalizing Google ads using +1's and other information from your Google profile.

The idea makes a lot of sense. If you’re searching, it’s nice to see if there are any answers that are recommended by your friends and Google wants to provide better results through human recommendation rather than completely relying on their search engine results. Indeed, it makes so much sense that Google has been offering this already through Google Social Search for nearly two years. But now these explicit recommendations become part of that.

Although Google hasn't provided specific details of what data is available through your Google webmaster tools, Google can potentially link the demographic data from profiles, to give advertisers even more information about their potential customers. Many advertisers are enthusiastic about the additional data about consumers' intentions that they get with the new feature.

Initially, +1's will be displayed along with search results & ads, but in the weeks ahead they'll appear in many more places (including other Google products & websites on the internet). If you're an advertiser & want to learn more about how a button works on search ads & websites, visit their AdWords blog.

[image: ThinkStockPhotos]

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